By Lisa Buscani
we are out, on the street, in Brooklyn. The boyfriend and I pass
our favorite Italian place that we're sure is Mafioso. The waiters
look like they can serve up the specials, then dismember you and
scatter the parts.
stroll along as a cab pulls up and a man gets out. He's puffed up
and overly manicured, but his hair and his clothes are completely
out of time, like tradition is his life raft. Like he's down to
just his heritage. He gets out of the street door and walks around
to the sidewalk door, opens it and pulls his female companion out
by her hair and dumps her to the ground. We hear her head crack
on the curb. She moans belatedly like booze cushions it a bit.
at my feet, she's a lump, a tangle; and I say omigod because that's
what humans say at moments like this. And the man whips around and
says, "Shut up! Shut up! I will kill you, I will kill everyone
who looks like you. I will kill your family."
such is Brooklyn.
is like Chicago, minus the space. Emotion minus space usually means
cruelty. Think of that one psychological experiment where they added
more and more rats to the box, they just jammed more and more rats
into the box and it wasn't long before the rats bit back, before
they sank their teeth into a weaker neck to try and make their space.
the man heaves and stares at me, his companion moans and tries to
rise and their cabbie wishes he was someplace else entirely. I feel
the boyfriend take me by the elbow. Keep walking, Lisa, keep walking.
walk past the precinct house in our neighborhood and I'm worrying
and worrying the whole thing like a drooling bulldog with his mangled
chew toy. Wondering, you know. What could we have done? There's
a cop outside the building. He looks like a million guys in Brooklyn,
brunette and all gut. But he'll stand up when you ask him to, that's
why they pay him the big bucks. I ask him what we should have done.
pulls on his belt. "Wait for us."
what if she's bleeding. What if he's beating her to death?"
for us. Look. If we don't like to take domestic calls, and we don't,
we certainly wouldn't expect you to handle it. All you can do is
call us and wait. You just have to wait."
across the street and see the woman from the cab, tottering in her
six-inch pumps, whimpering and nursing her head.
jeez, here comes trouble," the cop says, like he knows her.
too. I recognize her now, from around the neighborhood. She's a
stripper when she's feeling legal, a straight-on sex worker when
she's not. That's what they say, the boys in the wife-beater tees
after they watch her walk by. They usually watch her a good long
industry activists have started movements to change the way this
woman is perceived. They see her as a woman empowered, a woman who
recognizes her gifts and exploits them for all they're worth. She
embraces her sexuality and is stronger for it. But the activists
are rarely there when the power is revoked. Like tonight. That's
where the cops come in. That's where you call and wait.
cop looks at her and shakes his head. I tell him who she is and
he says, "Yeah, Christine. That's the way she lives it. What
can you do?"
I'm thinking, you can haul your doughnut-puffy butt across the street
and see if she's alright, you can see if she wants medical attention,
you can see if she wants to file a complaint. And I'm waiting for
that glorious feeling to crawl up my spine and blow out the top
of my head. I want my anger with me when I give the man a piece
of my mind.
the cop watches the woman teeter down the street and I notice his
shoulders sag. He puts his hand in his pockets and suddenly looks
bone tired, like he's so weary he could cry. And I can't be angry
with him. What can he do when someone he's responsible for keeps
putting herself in harm's way again and again? What happens when
his well of good will run dry? Sure, her protection is his job.
But he can't give what he ain't got.
walking. I don't feel angry. I feel a bit ashamed that my anger
is such a finicky creature. I wish it would come on and take me
someplace. Anyplace but here.
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